SingleSpeed may be the name of Dave Morgan’s restaurant and brewery business, but slow doesn’t describe Dave’s work. His passion, work ethic and entrepreneurial spirit relentlessly drive him forward, making him the perfect candidate to be recognized as the 2019 Young Entrepreneur.
Dave Morgan, a native of New Hampton, Iowa, graduated from the University of Northern Iowa in 1998 with a degree in business management. He tended bar, waited tables and cooked throughout college. Along the way he developed an interest in craft beer and transformed that into a career.
One of his earliest entrepreneurial adventures began when the owner of a local business that was closing reached out to Dave, asking if he wanted to join a new venture for a 20% stake. Mulligan’s Brick Oven opened in 2002, and Dave bought out the owners a few years later. He then brought in longtime friend Ryan Bennett as a partner in the business. Bennett has operated Mulligan’s since 2012.
That same year Dave’s next entrepreneurial venture took shape. Always an outdoor enthusiast and avid bicyclist, Dave was biking the George Wyth trails when the realization came to him that he could fill a void in the craft beer market in Iowa. There was not a single grain-to-glass brewery in the area at that time, and so the idea of SingleSpeed Brewery was born.
The name comes from his passion for bicycling. Like a single-speed bike has just one gear and moves along at an easy pace, Dave’s goal for SingleSpeed Brewery is to bring people together to slow down and relax. In December 2012, he opened a 1,700-square-foot location in downtown Cedar Falls which quickly outgrew its space. Today, this 45-seat taproom serves as a laboratory. Consumer feedback on the beer produced there helps SingleSpeed perfect the product before it is produced on a larger scale.
In 2015, the group Save the Wonderbread asked Dave if he would consider using the former Wonderbread factory in downtown Waterloo. Though he liked many aspects of the historical building, it took a while to envision it. Dave wanted to maintain the history of the building but also embrace sustainable, green energy options. After a $6 million renovation that earned National Register of Historic Places status, he opened the Waterloo restaurant in April 2017.
Today SingleSpeed employs around 85 people and has expanded into a 12,000-barrel operation. Its brews are now found in 200 stores and restaurants all over central and eastern Iowa.
Dave believes beer and bicycling make the perfect pairing and notes that the Cedar Valley has plenty of nature trails for biking. He shows his appreciation for those trails, and the people who maintain them, with annual fundraisers featuring specialty SingleSpeed brews.
“The trail system is fantastic here, and I think it’s important that we continue to bring attention to that — for people that come to town, live in town, for people when recruiting talent to town,” Dave told the Cedar Valley Business Monthly.
Dave and his wife, Dana, have two daughters, Anna and Grace. He and Dana still bicycle and run for fun. Looking into the future, Dave is focused on ensuring the sustainability of the Iowa operation before expanding further, but he remains open to new inspiration.